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Camping at Channel Islands State Marine Park

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Channel Islands State Marine Park refers to the protected marine areas around the Channel Islands in Southern California. However, for the purpose of camping and outdoor activities, we will focus on Channel Islands National Park, which is more commonly known for its outdoor and camping opportunities.


Camping Options

  • Scorpion Canyon Campground on Santa Cruz Island
  • Water Canyon Camp on Santa Rosa Island
  • Primitive campsites on San Miguel, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands


  • Advanced reservations are required for all campsites.
  • Reservations can be made through Recreation.gov.
  • Camping is year-round, but availability and conditions vary by season.


  • Campgrounds have pit toilets and picnic tables.
  • No potable water available on Anacapa or Santa Barbara, so bring your own.
  • Limited water available on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, but treat or filter before use.


What to Bring

  • Bring all the water and food you will need.
  • Appropriate clothing and camping gear for varied weather.
  • Sun protection and a first aid kit.
  • Navigation tools, such as a map or compass.

Leave No Trace

  • Pack out all trash and belongings.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact on the environment.


Getting There

  • Access to the islands is primarily via park concessionaire boats and planes.
  • Island Packers is the main boat transportation provider.

Inter-Island Transport

  • No services offering inter-island transport, so plan trips with return trips to the mainland.



  • Numerous trails offer scenic vistas and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Check trail conditions and difficulty levels.

Snorkeling & Diving

  • Kelp forests around the islands offer incredible marine life encounters.
  • Equipment can be rented on the mainland but not on the islands.

Wildlife Viewing

  • The park is home to unique species like the Island fox and diverse marine life.
  • Maintain a respectful distance from any wildlife.

Regulations and Safety

Park Regulations

  • Check specific rules regarding fires, which are generally prohibited outside established fire rings.
  • No collecting of any natural resources.

Safety Precautions

  • Be aware of variable and potentially dangerous ocean conditions.
  • Be prepared for weather changes and have suitable navigation tools.
  • Emergency services are limited; know your limits and plan accordingly.

Conservation and Research

Conservation Efforts

  • The park plays a critical role in marine conservation, protecting various species and habitats.
  • Visitors are expected to participate in these efforts by adhering to regulations.

Research Opportunities

  • Active research is ongoing in the park to understand and protect its unique ecosystems.
  • Volunteers and citizen science projects sometimes welcome participants.


Camping in Channel Islands National Park offers a unique wilderness experience but requires careful planning and self-sufficiency. Respecting the delicate ecosystems and preserving the natural beauty for future generations is paramount. Always prepare thoroughly and follow the park's guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Map of Campgrounds in Channel Islands State Marine Park
Campgrounds in Channel Islands State Marine Park
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